Pick Em

PICK EM FRIDAY | JOSH TAYLOR VS. REGIS PROGRAIS | STAFF PICKS

The battle lines were drawn some time ago, this Saturday will crown the outright winner of the Muhammad Ali trophy within the Lightweight division with bragging rights recouped by the winner of this great Super Series tournament.

The battle lines were drawn some time ago, this Saturday will crown the outright winner of the Muhammad Ali trophy within the Lightweight division with bragging rights recouped by the winner of this great Super Series tournament.

Since the original Super Six was announced I have yearned for more in the same format, In the hope that it would present a fighter that would leave no doubt as to who the king of that particular division would be.

This Weekend at London’s O2 arena It’s one of Josh Taylor or Regis Prograis, to give us our answer, a fitting final based on thier seedings going in.

Our writers at TopClassBoxing were tasked with the head scratcher of giving their opinion on a winner which as you will find, split opinion:

Jamie Bourne – PROGRAIS UD – In 2019, I can honestly say I haven’t looked forward to a fight more than Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor. It is exactly what boxing should be all about; two guys, both in their prime, ranked number one and two in their division, fighting for the right to call themselves the undoubted main man at their weight. Despite both being southpaw, which can sometimes make for poor viewing, I expect their styles to mould together nicely. It is a prime example of a fifty-fifty fight and I cannot wait to witness it live at the O2 Arena.

The Fighters

The Tartan Tornado has excellent footwork, quick hands and a high boxing IQ. He has the advantages in height, reach and speed, and will need to make full use of them to be victorious. However, he doesn’t always utilise his assets to their full capabilities. Rather than boxing and moving, he stands and trades, which allows his opponents to gain a foothold in the fight. When the crowd begins to roar and punches start flying, he often neglects his skills and relies on his fighting instincts.

Prograis, on the other hand, is somewhat surgical in his dismantling of opponents. He is renowned for being heavy-handed but his boxing ability is criminally underrated. He applies constant but subtle pressure and selects his shots carefully. His terrific balance and fluid upper body movement allow him to remain in range and slip his opponents shots, rather than relying on extensive footwork to avoid being hit. 

In terms of résumé, Prograis is more experienced but Taylor has encountered tougher tests. When comparing their records, Viktor Postol and Ivan Baranchyk stand out as the most significant names, which both reside on Taylor’s record. The best names featured on Prograis record are former world champions Terry Flanagan, Julius Indongo and Kiryl Relikh.  

The Tactics

The main concern for Taylor is that he has been relatively easy to hit in recent fights, which I think could prove to be his ultimate downfall against a sharp-shooting, hard-hitting puncher like Prograis. He simply cannot stand toe-to-toe with Prograis as he did against Postol or Baranchyk, where, despite getting the victories, he made it difficult for himself by getting dragged into a tear up. 

On Saturday, he needs to use his lateral movement to dart in and out of range, and force Prograis to take the fight to him. Taylor has proved himself as a good body puncher in recent fights and he will need to target Prograis’ midsection to make a dent and prevent him from coming forward.

If Shane McGuigan can implement the correct game plan, in which Taylor boxes to his strengths and doesn’t play into the hands of Prograis, he can give the American plenty of problems throughout. I’m just not entirely convinced he can resist the urge to get involved in a firefight once Prograis enjoys success.

The Outcome

I expect the opening few rounds to be cagey, with both men reluctant to commit to avoid potentially making a mistake. In the middle stages, I think we’ll begin to see Prograis’ punch output increase and him beginning to land with more success. This will force Taylor to engage to not only remain competitive but to also prevent Prograis from growing in confidence. 

The later rounds will be exciting, with Taylor chasing the fight and Prograis continuing to make him miss and make him pay. I think Prograis’ strength on the inside will prove to be a telling factor in the championship rounds as Taylor looks to force him onto the back foot. 

At the end of the twelve rounds, I expect the fans to be on their feet applauding an exciting, high-level fight between the two best light welterweights on the planet. With the first half of the fight being very nip-and-tuck, I expected the scoring to be divided amongst boxing fans and some rounds will come down to personal preference. The judges’ scores will be close but all in favour of a Prograis victory. 

Paul J Daley – TAYLOR MD – The 50/50 contests continue to come thick and fast, after last weekends contest which left the boxing community divided in their opinion of a winner between Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk we find ourselves in the same predicament, dare I say that this maybe closer than the last.

On the previous occasion I was fortunate to have predicted the outcome, round and the way in which the fight would be won, Skill? a smidge, Luck? a lot.

I find myself in the same situation here, where I go back and forth with the repeated line of argument starting with, What If?

We know Josh gets hit sometimes too frequently for my liking, his Scottish pride coming to the forefront, so with that in mind what If Regis was to land the same shots that Ivan Baranchyk or Viktor Postol were able to have success with?

Then it becomes a question of How Prograis can overcome the advantages that Taylor brings into the fight i.e. height and reach?

The conversation continues successful enough to give myself a headache, Just a day away and all will be answered on what promises to be a great night at the O2 arena in London, England.

So this is how I think it will Play out?

Prograis from the offset will look to apply pressure in a bid to lure Taylor into the traps that he will regularly set going forward, It will be interesting to see whether Taylor will allow him to do so or will find dictate the action behind his own jab.

The middle rounds will see one man start to pull away, possibly the American who starts to have some success by targeting the long body of the Scot, each punch further zapping the energy from his reserves.

Entering the championship rounds, I feel there will be little in the contest, maybe a point or two but like William Wallace, Taylor summons up whatever energy he has left to fight fire with fire, making a stand and by doing so taking the rounds on the judges scorecards to win by a slim majority decision.

Daniel Foley – PROGRAIS TKO – It looks like we are in for another treat this Saturday night as two of the best junior welterweights in the world go head-to-head when Josh Taylor takes on Regis Prograis for the chance to take home the IBF and WBA world titles.  After a tough fight to call last weekend it looks like we’ve got another close one on the cards this weekend.  This should be a really interesting fight to see unfold especially with both fighters being southpaws and both are excellent body punchers.

 This will also be the biggest test of either fighters career to date, Prograis has arguably looked the more impressive in his career to date, but Taylor really showed a lot of grit and heart in his last fight against Ivan Baranchyk.  

For Taylor to get the W he will need to ensure he doesn’t get drawn into a brawl in this fight, he’s an excellent technician and if he is able to use his height and reach along with his technical ability he could well walk away the undisputed champion. 

Prograis on the other hand will need to use his quickness and power in this fight, he is also extrememly skilled and if he’s able to put everything together and connect and hurt Taylor then this could lead to Taylor losing his composure and getting dragged into a dog fight which I feel would suit Prograis a lot more than it would Taylor.  

This fight really has me going back and forth but I think i’m going to stick with my initial instinct when this fight was first announced and go with Prograis via TKO.

Ciaran Owen Thomas – TAYLOR TKO – The Tartan Tornado’ Josh Taylor is seemingly on a train of destruction, beating anyone that gets in his way. Undoubtedly such a talented, accomplished fighter who I think will once again prove this Saturday why he is so highly regarded in the world of boxing. With an 80% knockout ratio it could very well be the same fate for Prograis as 12 of Taylor’s other opponents. 

Regis Prograis may not be known to many UK fight fans and even to the Scottish contingent who will be backing Taylor, but with 20 KOs in 24 wins and carrying an 83% knockout ratio himself. Should he be a man that is underestimated? Although you have got to ask the question of has he fought anyone of the level of Taylor in his career so far, Taylor himself doesnt seem to think so and made it clear to Prograis in their first face off, looking ultra confident as always. Two unbeaten fighters ready to go toe to toe in the O2 in London and deliver a great fight for boxing fans in the world boxing super series final! 

Ok so how does this fight go?

Well I think one thing is for certain, Regis Prograis could be playing with fire if he tries to get into a dog fight with Taylor as we have seen how clinical and dangerous Taylor can be when that happens. Admittedly I haven’t seen a lot of Prograis, but an unbeaten fighter in 24 fights will demand respect. However, I see the supremely talented Josh Taylor being too good for Prograis in all departments and will be the man with his hand raised! Both men undoubtedly have power with the stats on both of their KO ratio’s but I think Taylor will break him down bit by bit and will get the stoppage win.

Another great night of boxing to look forward to Saturday with a very good card from start to finish. Looking forward to it 

Richard Lewis – PROGRAIS DEC – When the seeding was announced going into this World Boxing Super Series tournament in the Super Lightweight division, or Light-Welter to the majority of us in the UK, this weekends finalists were predictably ranked in first and second place.

Though before they could get to the final both have had to overcome some good opposition and former and defending word champions, with Regis Prograis beating former Lightweight world champion, Englishman Terry Flanagan over the distance and defending WBA Super champion Kiryl Relikh by TKO in the 6th round of their semi final contest. Meanwhile Josh Taylor has himself looked impressive on his way to stopping American Ryan Martin in the 7th round of their quarter final bout, before dethroning the then undefeated and defending IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk via a unanimous points decision. 

To me there’s very little to split the two men and it’s a 50-50 fight that could go either way. Both are big punchers and protecting undefeated records, as well as each holding a version of the world title at the weight. There are similarities in their records and recent fights and in the absence of current WBC and WBO champion Jose Carlos Ramirez then many will agree that Prograis and Taylor are the best in the division. 

It’s a fight that you can’t help but get excited about as there’s so many permutations and either man is more than capable of forcing an early stoppage on the other, but equally able to fight for the twelve round distance should they require to do so.

I’ve long been of the opinion since I saw Prograis beat Terry Flanagan that he’d be the eventual winner of the tournament and I’m not going to change my mind. Though equally I’d be just as happy to see Josh Taylor get the win come Saturday night.

To sum up my prediction is that Regis Prograis wins a close points decision but will have to weather the storm of the ‘Tartan Tornado’ and not have it all his own way but just do enough to take the victory and be crowned the winner of the tournament and the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy.

Sean Bastow – TAYLOR DEC – This has all the makings of a fight of the year contender; we have two undefeated super lightweights with a supreme amount of skill between them. Taylor has the more rounded skill set and having such an accomplished amateur career also gives him a slight advantages.

Prograis is awkward, unpredictable and carries decent punch power for the weight and will certainly give Taylor a puzzle to solve

I can’t help but feel this will be a really close fight between the two with some really close rounds, but ultimately I think Taylor will have enough in his repertoire to take a close result on the scorecards.

Steve Haigh – UNDECIDED – Both highly skilled operators and definitely the two top fighters in the ten stone division. Taylor obviously holds the advantage in height,reach and probably weight on the night It really could come down to having home advantage.

How does the American travel on the biggest night of his life,we do not know? I think it’s highly likely that Josh Taylor will attempt to keep it at range and that Rougarou will try to take this fight on the inside. But Taylor will be happy to oblige him, we’ve already seen how he handles himself at close range. I cant call it but I feel it’s going the full distance So I’m really hoping the judges get this one right 

Ian Stewart – TAYLOR KO – Two world champions come face to face at the o2 in what I am predicting will be a fight for the ages . I feel Josh is the better boxer but will need to stay clear of the piston like jab that Regis brings. If Josh boxes smart for the first 3 or 4 rounds I can see him starting to break Regis down by the championship rounds but on the other hand Josh can be his own worst enemy and can be guilty of going to war without the need to do so.

This is so hard to predict I’m even changing my mind while writing this but I’m going to go with my gut that tells me that Taylor wins by knockout in the championship rounds .

Craig Morgan – TAYLOR DEC – A mouthwatering clash, between arguably no.1 & no.2 in the 140lb division. Both men are on a roll & in fine form. Both fighting at their peak & both undefeated. There will be a lot of close rounds, the southpaw styles should cancel out each others advantage in that respect.

A genuine 50/50 fight & a fight that I cannot confidently pick a winner but I lean towards Taylor. With it being on home soil, in the UK but not his hometown, I see Taylor winning a close decision.

I've been in the boxing industry for over 16 years but been a fan for almost double that figure. I'm the proud owner of TopClassBoxing which continues to go from strength to strength as we strive to give fight fans a voice to be heard amongst the community. I've also had several articles published by reputable magazines and you can usually catch me around ringside.

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